Friday, September 16, 2016

Review: Good Boys (Solomon Mystery #1) by Keelan Ellis


Title: Good Boys

Author: Keelan Ellis

Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Release: 26th August 2016

Genre: M/M (murder/mystery)


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Paul Solomon is a homicide detective in Baltimore, a city with a high murder rate and a complicated relationship between the police and the citizens they are sworn to protect.

He’s also a gay man who has been out on the job since he first joined. Being out on a tough police force hasn’t always been easy, but living with integrity is important to him.

Paul’s love life becomes as tumultuous as his job with the demise of his relationship of eight years. While dealing with the emotional and physical upheaval in his personal life, a case comes across his desk that hits a little too close to home—the murder of two gay teenagers.

Paul and his partner, Tim Cullen, must solve the double homicide, and Paul has to find a way to move on from his failed relationship.

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Freya’s Review

It’s interesting to read the first book in a series as I’m never quite sure whether the book can be read as a standalone or if I’m going to be left swearing about the cliff-hanger. By the looks of it, Good Boys, is a mixture of the two. Like some TV series, this has a background arc that will carry over to each book, but the investigation itself will find a resolution.

The year is 2017, Paul has broken up from Andy, his boyfriend of eight years and is trying to move on. In the meantime, Paul and his detective partner Tim are assigned the homicide of two gay teenagers. The detectives have to investigate the possibility that their murders were hate crimes, two lads in the wrong place at the wrong time, or something entirely different.

As far as the technical stuff goes, the typeface and spacing make the story easy to read. However, I’ve noticed this in a few books now - the word said, seems to be back in fashion instead of using other descriptors. Can’t say I’m keen on it. For me, I’d much prefer to read, ‘he murmured,' instead of, ‘he said.' The former gives me a much better picture of the scene. There are websites dedicated to alternatives of the word. For me, its excessive use spoiled the authentic banter between Paul and his on the job partner Tim. Other than that, the story is well edited and presented.

Back to the story.

The murder of two young men in any circumstances is grim, and the author (my stomach is thankful for), used diplomatic restraint while still producing some good scene descriptions. The subject matter is horrific enough without the extra imagery or shock factor. As part of the investigation, the varying perspectives of people associated with knowing gay people, is also tackled. They range from fully embracing, to uncomfortably accepting within boundaries, tolerating and outright hate.

What is refreshing is that this story doesn’t pussy foot around, trying to make the banter and phrasing, politically correct. It tackles various scenarios head on - sometimes using humor and sometimes being more serious. The dynamic between Paul and the very straight Tim is great. They don’t hide things and talk up front about whatever issues there are. It allowed the author to tackle subjects relating to straight guy meets gay, and the questions both want to ask, but rarely do.

Good Boys has two levels of story. Primarily, it focuses on the investigation. Paul’s love life is the secondary arc. The story goes through the process of questioning, friends, family and other witnesses – the whole nine yards - theories and all. As such, the story is somewhat of a slow burn. You won’t find it all gunfire, adrenaline-fuelled car chases and flashing blue lights. It’s more sedate, honest, ball breaking detective work mixed in with some lucky breaks. Before long, I found myself caring for the interesting range of characters and the varied styles of life presented.

Regarding the secondary arc of Paul’s love life – several possibilities are on the table. He may have broken up with Andy, but there are still feelings there. Owen, an ex of old that has matured and changed his flighty ways. And David, the cute guy with the dodgy past who should be a do not touch with a barge pole. What Paul does with who, I’m not telling. But, this melee is how the heat is raised a notch or two for those readers who like a bit of skin to skin action with their mysteries.

There are plenty of twists to keep budding Sherlock’s happy before resolution, and if you enjoy reading an involved investigation with several layers of storyline – you’re going to love this book and the following series.

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Book Trailer

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Connect with Keelan Ellis

Like most authors, I've been a writer my whole life, but I didn't publish anything (outside of my high school lit magazine) until I was forty years old. There are a bunch of things that held me back from trying--lack of time, lack of inspiration, laziness--but the major one was clearly insecurity. I had no confidence in my abilities, and like many people who begin life as a precocious, intelligent kid, I felt like I had never lived up to my so-called potential. I was, and am, a classic underachiever. It's more comforting to think of yourself as a slacker than as someone who tried and failed, until you actually examine that and realize how depressing it is. So then I tried and...failed. Then I tried again and succeeded, sort of. I got published, anyway. And then again, and a few more times. I still don't make money, and I still don't have a best seller, but most of the time I'm okay with that. I've written stories that people pay cash money for and read. I've gotten some lovely reviews on my work. Most importantly, I'm not hiding behind my unexplored potential anymore, and I'm putting myself and my talent out there for scrutiny. Scary but really good for me.

I have a family--a spouse and two daughters. My oldest is a teenager and I like her more than I have since she was a toddler. She's brilliant. I don't say that lightly. She's one of the smartest people I know, which is scary when you mix it with a hair trigger temper and an intolerance for anything that annoys her. She hates unfairness and bigotry of any kind. My younger kid is an artist with an uncanny ability to capture the essence of whatever she's drawing. She loves animals and has a big heart. She has a remarkable grasp of human nature and knows how to use it. This is also scary. To sum up, my kids amaze and scare me on a daily basis.

I have a million ideas of what to write about, but life gets in the way. So does my tendency to self-sabotage, which is a fairly large portion of my personality. I have plans, though.


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